Our flagship program is a forest kindergarten program for children aged 3-6. Families enroll in a year-long inquiry-based educational experience. We emphasize social-emotional learning over didactic teaching of academic or wilderness skills. We encourage developmentally-appropriate exploration so that children can experience risk, challenge, success, uncertainty, self-efficacy, and more! Our 2019-2020 forest kindergarten program is for approximately 12-14 students who meet at Sandy Creek Park two mornings per week (Tuesdays & Thursdays). With 3-4 adults present, we utilize flexible grouping as needed throughout the day and from week to week. We are a cooperative that thrives on parent volunteers, including weekly Forest-Helpers. This program provides approximately a 1:4 adult-child ratio. Click here to learn more.
AFK Connects is all about facilitating connections - between families and our educators, between neighbors interested in getting their children playing outside together more, between parents and developmental experts, between our Faculty and other school teachers, and more. Read more below about our affordable and free community programs and our advocacy goals below.
AFK Playgroup is our beloved weekly playgroup that meets at various parks, farms, and gardens in the area. We inspire nature play, connect families with one another, promote exploration of the natural spaces in our community, and offer a chance to speak with our Educator for tips about facilitating nature play, age appropriate risk-taking, and resilience at home.
AFK Playgroup is offered weekly from September through April, with occasional pop-up Playgroups to be announced throughout the summer of 2019! Learn more or register here.
In our 2018-2019 year we hosted two parent education events open to the public. The first was a Forest Therapy experience, for adults to explore their own relationship with the Earth and their selves. It was guided by Forest Therapist, Tina Tinsley. We also hosted a workshop in Child Parent Relationship training (CPR-T), led by local play therapist Jessica Sigur, LPC of In Play Family Counseling and Resource Center. Coming up in 2019-2020 we have workshops, a book club, and more in the works, which will all be open to the public!
Research and Advocacy
We aim to add to the growing body of research that supports immersive nature-based experiences as a fundamental component of early childhood education. In 2018-2019 we began a scholarly research project to understand the development of compassion through a forest kindergarten experience.
With increased funding and the growth of AFK Connects, we hope to contribute programs, research, and assessment to our local and state education policymakers and decision-makers.